MIT Sloan | Mr. Refinery Engineer
GMAT 700- will retake, GPA 3.87
Berkeley Haas | Ms. 10 Years Experience
GMAT To be taken, GPA 3.1
Stanford GSB | Mr. Singing Banking Lawyer
GMAT 720, GPA 110-point scale. Got 110/110 with honors
Yale | Ms. Social Impact AKS
GRE 315, GPA 7.56
Harvard | Mr. Political Consultant
GRE 337, GPA 3.85
Kellogg | Mr. Chief Product Officer
GMAT 740, GPA 77.53% (First Class with Distinction, Dean's List Candidate)
Said Business School | Mr. Across The Pond
GMAT 680, GPA 2.8
Yale | Mr. Army Infantry Officer
GMAT 730, GPA 2.83
Wharton | Mr. Army & Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 360 Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
N U Singapore | Ms. Biomanager
GMAT 520, GPA 2.8
MIT Sloan | Mr. Low GPA Over Achiever
GMAT 700, GPA 2.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Corp Finance
GMAT 740, GPA 3.75
Harvard | Mr. Improve Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Wake Up & Grind
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Darden | Mr. Fintech Nerd
GMAT 740, GPA 7.7/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Minority Champ
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Darden | Mr. Senior Energy Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.5
Harvard | Mr. Merchant Of Debt
GMAT 760, GPA 3.5 / 4.0 in Master 1 / 4.0 in Master 2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Indian Telecom ENG
GRE 340, GPA 3.56
Stanford GSB | Ms. East Africa Specialist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.34
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Ms. Start-Up Entrepreneur
GRE 318 current; 324 intended, GPA 3.4
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Professional Boy Scout
GMAT 660, GPA 3.83
IU Kelley | Mr. Construction Manager
GRE 680, GPA 3.02

Meet Yale SOM’s MBA Class Of 2021

Yale SOM Exterior. Photo Credit: Harold Shapiro


Looking for an intimidating resume? Check out Eva Leung:I had amazing exposure executing strategic transactions in various emerging markets, including selling a US$600m portfolio in the United Arab Emirates, negotiating terms for acquiring a banking business in Vietnam, and structuring the financing package for a landmark real estate acquisition in Greater China.” At American Airlines, Michelle Gilroy convinced the organization’s far-flung general managers to adopt her Bid Builder platform. Thus far, it has realized a $5 million dollar savings…annually. Then again, Diego Ordoñez turned a vicious cycle into a virtuous circle, where an inability to raise capital for a Cancun development hindered his ability to create marketing and branding that’d attract investors. After adopting an unconventional approach – targeting local businesspeople for private loans – Ordoñez transformed the fledgling project into a money-maker.

“We secured the required capital and found an unexpected benefit: the local business community connected me with high-level government officials who guided me through the permit process (my second challenge as project leader), as well as with potential investors who ended up leasing spaces in the development. Two years later, the development was finished. The ROI was outstanding and 85% of the building was sold or leased…with the norm being 40%.”

Some students serve as a testament to gumption and grit by just making it to the Class of 2021. Abhishek Agarwal grew up in impoverished rural India, where poor education and healthcare infrastructure made the odds of reaching college improbable. How did he make it to Yale SOM? Simple: he dreamed big. Kiara Feliz also faced adversity growing up. Noticing her struggles, a priest would give Feliz small tokens of appreciation for her volunteer work at the church – with one gift helping to clarify her path.

Yale SOM faculty and students meeting outside class. Photo Credit: Tony Rinaldo

“At one school book fair,” recalls Feliz, “I remember Father Theophane handing me a crumpled dollar bill and whispering, “Go invest in your future.” I later realized that the dollar bill represented potential – a potential that was worth investing in and a potential to make a difference in my life. All of my choices in life have centered on passing on the dignity that was conferred on me as a child to others, to empower others to reach their potential despite life’s hurdles. I credit this as the driving force behind my desire for an MBA, to scale the number of crumpled dollars I’m effectively able to pass on.”


Make no mistake: The Class of 2021 boasts impressive credentials and potential. Looking at the admissions data, the class falls slightly short of its predecessors. That begins with applications. During the 2018-2019 admissions cycle, Yale SOM – like most top-tier MBA programs – experienced a serious downturn in applications. In this case, the decline came to 15.7%. This decrease had implications. The school’s acceptance rate rose five points to 25%. This lower selectivity also translated into drops in average GMAT (724 to 721) and average undergraduate GPA (3.67 to 3.64).

Demographically, the class also features slightly fewer women (43% vs. 42%) and international students (45% vs. 44%). One silver lining: the percentage of underrepresented American minorities rose from 27% to 29%. Overall, the class hails from 47 countries and speak 44 languages. True to the program’s interdisciplinary nature, 11% of the class is pursuing dual degrees.

Academically, 186 undergraduate institutions are represented in the class. STEM majors account for the biggest share of students at 30%, followed by social sciences and humanities (28%), business (23%), and economics (19%). These blocs remained relatively consistent over the previous class, though business and STEM majors each climbed by two points – with both humanities and economics each losing two points. Overall, 27% of the class holds government or non-profit backgrounds. However, financial services (20%) and consulting (19%) account for the largest shares of the class.


Interior architecture of the Yale School of Management. Photo Credit: Tony Rinaldo

While the admissions data may have been disappointing, Yale SOM still has plenty to crow about this year. The program traditionally ranks among the most popular programs in applications-per-seat. Sure enough, the 218-2019 cycle was no different with a 10.8-to-1 ratio. Better still, it remained a darling of employers. In Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2018 recruiter survey, Yale SOM ranked 1st for the Most Diverse MBAs and 2nd for Most Innovation (along with placing in the Top 6 for Best Trained, Entrepreneurship Training, and Brand Value). According to Forbes data, Yale SOM grads can expect a near $75,000 pay increase with five years of earning their MBAs.

2019 also represents a changing of the guard at the school. In March, Kerwin Kofi Charles, a University of Chicago economist, was selected to replace Dean Ted Snyder. Sure enough, Charles has plenty to build from after Snyder’s successful eight year term. Notably, the percentage of students enrolled in SOM Master’s degree programs jumped by 83% during his tenure, with the number of elective courses rising from 99 to 154. In fact, the number of non-SOM students enrolled in business school classes more than tripled from 499 to 1,584 students annually. To accommodate this growth, the number of full-time faculty has increased from 68 to 90 professors. Alumni often show their satisfaction through their wallets. By that measure, Yale SOM excelled during Snyder’s tenure, with annual gifts rocketing from $1.65 million to $3.9 million dollars.

One area where alumni have been outright giddy is faculty quality. In the 2018 Economist satisfaction survey, Yale SOM earned a perfect score from alumni respondents. In Edi Pinker’s view, this success stems from an alignment of mission and expectations between faculty and students – with faculty enthusiasm rubbing off on students…and vice versa.

“The students have selected SOM because they believe in the mission,” Pinker affirms. “With the faculty committed, then you have the two sides of the classroom in sync in a very fundamental way. The students see the faculty are sharing these ideas because they think it is important to better understand how our society works and how business impacts society. Our faculty believes that students who excel at what we’re teaching them will have a more significant impact on society. The faculty is not just there to punch a clock. They think it is important to be doing the teaching that they are doing. That carries over to the student assessment of what is happening in the classroom.”

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Next Page: Q&A with Yale SOM administrators.

To access 15 in-depth profiles of Yale SOM MBAs, go to page 4.